From Pharma to Table: The McDonald’s/Pfizer Merge

August 10, 2011 By

(Note:  John Fugelsang wrote this piece originally for Tony Hendra’s satirical site ‘The Final Edition’ and was published under the unfortunate pen name of Basil Pesto.)McDonalds

Last night’s unexpected merger between Pfizer and McDonald’s sent shock waves through Wall Street, the Pharmaceutical industry and the heavily-processed meat community.

“It was a no-brainer, really” remarked Pfizer CEO Ian Read. ‘These beloved brands have long enjoyed a symbiotic corporate relationship.  We finally decided that as long as McDonald’s is creating new patients for our medications – medications which keep their consumers alive and able to keep walking back to enjoy those 99-cent specials – why not work together?’

The top-secret negotiations, months in the making, sent stock prices soaring as McDonald’s franchises unveiled a new “McHealth Menu” that reflects the revised business model of McDonald’s/Pfizer (now listed as ‘McPfiz’ on the S&P 500).

‘The New McBLT, featuring Bacon, Lipitor & Tomato, redefines health & commerce’ says Fred Golgoth, McDonald’s VP of  Globalization & Happy Meal Toy Development.    ‘It’s a logical progression – together we’ll give people the tasty food products they love, and, should said products threaten their health, we also provide the drugs to neutralize that threat.”

New meals include the  Angus Chipotle Zithromax BBQ Burger, which provides powerful antibiotics to combat fungal infection, in addition to the undetermined antibiotics injected during a cow’s short life before slaughter.

Customer activity indicates strong approval for the merger amongst McDonald’s regulars.  At a franchise in Bullwhallop, Texas, hungry diner Sue Gompfolker opted for the Premium Crispy Chicken McLyrica Classic.  “I’ve got a generalized anxiety disorder, and this allows me to get the anticonvulsant I need, with the bacon I crave.”

Ms.  Gompfolker’s elderly mother,  Anna, opted for the Big N’ Tasty Celebrex  Burger with Mushrooms & Swiss.  “Why should I worry about the colon polyps when I’m also eating the cure?” she merrily chirped from her mechanized scooter.

Upcoming entrees include the Premium Honey Mustard Diflucan Wrap (with co-pay),  the Southern Style Grilled McDouble Viagra Wrap (Ranch),  and the all-new McZyloprimRib with Red Meat Wrap for gout sufferers.

“It’s the circle of life” remarked McDonald’s VP Golgoth. “Pfizer had the vision to partner with the largest fast-food chain in the world.”   When reminded that Subway recently surpassed McDonald’s as the largest chain,  Golgoth replied “Yes, but we’ve still got the largest customers.”

The newly merged company has already secured preliminary approval from Health and Human Services for Medicare and Medicaid to cover the cost of select McDonald’s Health Menu meals. A small co-pay may be required where brand-name drugs are used, or HHS deems the risk to the public health to be abnormally high.

Future corporate plans include development of a nationwide Insurance Provider Network, tentatively titled ‘McHMO.’


Why Does Newt Hate Our Freedoms?

September 6, 2010 By

Newt Gingrich speaks at  Women's National Republican Club in New York

My father died two weeks ago.  He was a devout Catholic, and a former Franciscan brother.  The last week of his life he was really upset  – not about dying, but about that church in Gainesville that’s planning to burn Korans on 9/11.

My dad thought it wasn’t a Christian protest, but an act of Christian supremacy. I said I wouldn’t mind people burning the Korans, as long as they did it with German accents.

My Dad didn’t laugh at that one, either.    But I’ve been thinking of him all week during the furor over construction of the Cordoba house, also known as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque.’

By now you’ve probably heard it’s not actually at Ground Zero; it’s in the old Burlington Coat Factory building, which makes it a deep offense to Americans who care about quality outerwear.   As a patriot, I’m very protective of American coats that were made in China.

And the place isn’t actually a mosque either.    There’s a mosque in it, but it’s a community center, with a theatre, café, meeting rooms, and, I’m sure at some point, a Pinkberry.

Most people who live here in lower Manhattan have no problem with this.    But some of the same politicians who once claimed that 9/11 was all about foreigners hating our freedoms are now furious at those very freedoms.

Recent Catholic convert Newt Gingrich says Muslims are trying to impose their way of life on us;  and that they shouldn’t be able to build the center because there are no churches in Saudi Arabia.      While it’s refreshing to finally hear Newt criticize the Saudi regime, and while it’s worth pointing out that there are Christians and churches all over the middle east – it’s where Christianity was born – he seems to be missing the point.

The fact that there are no churches in Saudi Arabia is exactly why the US should allow the Cordoba house to be built – to prove that we’re not just bragging, but that we really are a free society.     Freedom means being tolerant of things that you might find offensive – other religions, flag burning, even the Jonas Brothers.

In fairness to Newt, he’s been very busy lately protecting the sanctity of his marriage from gay couples.  And presumably the sanctity of his previous two marriages.    They were sacred too, it’s just sometimes Newt gets to wanting some ‘new sacred.’   But he’s wrong to single out Muslims as merely the perpetrators of 9/11.     Muslims died that day, too.   Muslims who, unlike Newt, actually lived in New York City.

Salman Hamdani was a 23 year old ambulance driver who died helping o when the towers collapsed.      His body was found in the rubble, his EMT kit beside him.   So why shouldn’t moderate Muslims have the chance to build their center – and show that the right-wing fundamentalists are no more real Muslims than Timothy Mcveigh was a real Christian?

Back in the late 80s, the Catholic Church sparked an uproar when they wanted to build a convent and erect crosses on the grounds at Auschwitz.     At the time, American conservatives  supported the idea, believing that any faith deserved a chance to redress past sins committed in its name.    Today, those same conservatives seek to deny that reconciliation to Muslims.

Al Queda didn’t’ attack us on 9/11 because they wanted to ‘impose their way of life on us.’     They did it, in part, because they wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia.  President Bush & Donald Rumsfeld  promptly withdrew our forces, and essentially gave the terrorists exactly what they had asked for.

Al Quadea wants America to hate our own Muslims, and to deny them the freedoms we take for granted.  They want to be able to say ‘look, America hates Islam and their claims of freedom are a lie.’  I say, stop giving these guys what they want.

Barack Obama said the center had a right to be there, then backtracked and said he wasn’t endorsing it.  In other words, it is a good thing, but that depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.     Harry Reid says they have a right to be there, but they shouldn’t be there; possibly the boldest stand he’s taken since he switched to loafers without tassels.

And I’m not saying the Cordoba House leaders are the greatest guys in the world.    If they were smart, they’d release a statement saying ‘folks, we don’t want enemies; we’re good people,  we’re gonna move 6 blocks over into the old TGI Fridays building in battery park, peace be upon you.”  If they did that, even Newt would have to say “a salaam alaikem.”  But until then, they still have freedom of religion & assembly.

And that means America wins.

I understand why protestors are so shocked by this.  And  I don’t think most politicians actually hate Muslims, but you’ll never lose votes hating on Islam in an election year.      And if I seem to take this personally, it’s because my cousin’s a Muslim.

He’s Egyptian American, and a doctor. He was very close to my dad and 16 years ago, in a previous health scare, he helped save my father’s life.    I called him last week to thank him for all he’d done,  and he said ‘don’t thank me.  I loved him.  Your father was my father.’

And that made me proud to be an American.  I’ve got a Muslim cousin, a Jewish sister in law, an atheist brother and an ex-nun mother.  I don’t get to hate on ANYONE.


Harpo & Chico Marx.

March 14, 2010 By


Taking The Drug War Seriously

March 14, 2010 By

I was watching Fox News when I came across that commercial for the drug war.   You know it.   It’s the one that says “If you buy drugs, even pot, your money may go to fund terrorists.”

Now this was really an eye opener for me. I grew up in America’s public schools, with all the traditional propaganda about Cannabis.   You know what I’m talking about – all those horror stories about the evil things pot will do to your brain? I can’t recall any of it right now, but you get the idea.

They always told us “Pot makes you violent. And lazy.”    Which never scared any kids I knew.   Violent people being lazy is actually a brilliant anti-crime strategy.     Just imagine a thug who threatens, “I’m gonna kill you, man, right after this burrito.”

This is why so many kids have a hard time taking the drug war seriously.  We’re always changing the reasons, but the message stays the same. We keep telling them “drugs are bad! Drugs are bad! Drugs are bad!” and that, my friends, is not the problem.

The problem is not that drugs are bad. The problem is that drugs are great. That’s the problem.

Addiction is bad. Overdosing is bad. Making stupid choices when you’re high is bad, and all you potheads who accidentally paid to see “Avatar” in 2-D know what I’m talking about.

But it wasn’t until the Bush Administration that the Government began saying that if you buy pot, your money will go to terrorists. Clearly, the message George Bush was sending? Grow your own.

I  actually thought it was hilarious when the government began  linking the war on drugs to the current war on terror. You see, the Drug War as we know it began in that bastion of morality, San Francisco, back in 1873.

Back then, Chinese immigrants were the group everybody was allowed to hate.    Caucasian people really didn’t like the thought of good Christian folks going to smoke in the opium dens of “the heathen Chinee.” . White people took opium too, but they usually ate it, or shot it up. You know, the wholesome way.

So they passed a law taxing imported smokable opium.  This is noteworthy, since besides the obvious racism, it was the first time the government used taxes not to raise money (as the founders intended), but to punish and control private behavior.

The well regulated, law abiding opium houses shut down, the Chinese underworld grew stronger: violence erupted; lives disrupted; police and politicians corrupted; America interrupted.

So it’s highly ironic that they’d link the drug war to the terror war.  Because now that the Taliban is out of power, people can finally get decent opium again.

The Drug war’s been around so long it seems like it’s part of our heritage. But cannabis hemp was a major American crop from the earliest colonial days. The US census of 1850 counted 8000 hemp plantations.

I’m going to repeat that, because I think it’s worth noting. The 1850 US Census counted 8000 cannabis hemp plantations. Growing cannabis was as American as apple pie. And everyone knew that if you smoked the flowery top of the plant, you’d want to eat a lot of apple pies. But it was never a concern.  Then, as now, the biggest drug problem in the US was our old friend alcohol.

When the government made cannabis illegal in 1937, the American Medical Association officially protested – because for hundreds of years, its medicinal and industrial uses were well documented.

Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello, and actually helped smuggle rare hemp seeds out of China. Nowadays, they’d go to jail for it. That is, if we ever started locking up the rich white guys

Benjamin Franklin started a colonial paper mill that made paper from hemp fiber. I’m not suggesting Ben ever smoked any – I’m sure lots of perfectly sober guys fly kites during thunderstorms.

And it’s worth mentioning that from the 1600s to the 1800s, cannabis hemp was used as a currency – legal tender. In fact for over 200 years you could pay your taxes in cannabis hemp. This was not, however, the origin of the term “joint return.”

The point is, Cannabis has been in America for thousands of years – even longer than white people. But it’s only been illegal for the past 70. So technically, decriminalizing it is the true Conservative point of view.

And it’s the issue of medical marijuana that makes this a moral battle. I grew up in a Catholic family. An extremely Catholic family. We used to have open casket reunions. Now I’m not anti-Christian at all. My Mother is an ex-nun and my Father an ex-Franciscan brother. I just view Jesus the way I view Elvis. I love the guy, but some of the fan clubs scare me.

Because what I learned from the bible as a child was that Jesus was a radical nonviolent revolutionary; a man who hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks; who never spoke English and wasn’t an American citizen; was anti-death penalty, anti-capitalist, anti public prayer (Matthew 6:5, please remind them) but Never anti gay; and was a long haired, brown skinned (yes, it’s in there), homeless, middle eastern Jew. And all he wants us to do is love people – especially the people we don’t like.

So I have a hard time believing that JC would advocate locking up sick people.

In 1996 the voters of California approved a medical marijuana proposal. The Clinton White House promptly put the kibosh on it. George W. Bush and Barack Obama are also opposed to medical marijuana.   Now all three of these presidents have been highly selective at best about their drug histories – but they’ve had no problem locking up others for the same behaviors. Which I take as a sign that none of them truly believes in the drug war.

Because if they really felt at their core that illegal drug use was evil, they’d confess their crimes and ask forgiveness. Remember – if they thought it was a sin, they’d turn themselves in. Imagine Johnnie Cochran saying it – it’ll sound better.

I’m not saying that these  presidents are evil men. It’s just part of why the drug war makes no sense. It’s a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle where the pieces don’t fit – and it’s never going to look like what they promised you on the box..

The drug war violates civil liberties, privacy rights, rights against search and seizure. It’s led to out of control crime, corrupted law enforcement & business officials, and shown that the wealthy can get away with what the poor cannot – in short, it makes a mockery of any claim to be a free country.

The war on drugs is a war on Americans. It’s not even about race anymore , but class – and the only color that matters is lack of green.

But we can’t stop? You know why? We as a nation, a people, a tribe, are hooked.

Like Caffeine, Oxycontin, fructose or Vicodin – we are addicted to the drug war.

We know it doesn’t work – we can’t stop.

We know it’s too expensive and we can’t afford it – we can’t stop.

We know there are a million people in prison and every year we pay 40 grand apiece to keep them in jail; when they could be out working, paying taxes and contributing to the economy – but we cannot stop.

There are two types of people who keep repeating the same behaviors over and over, always expecting different outcome. Addicts, and crazy people.

So we’d better hope we’re addicts. Because I don’t’ want to believe the country I love is this insane. And the good news is this : if we are addicted, we can get treatment.


Howard Zinn, ‘On Human Nature and Aggression.’

January 31, 2010 By